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GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) Internals

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4. Language Front Ends in GCC

The interface to front ends for languages in GCC, and in particular the tree structure (see section 7. Trees: The intermediate representation used by the C and C++ front ends), was initially designed for C, and many aspects of it are still somewhat biased towards C and C-like languages. It is, however, reasonably well suited to other procedural languages, and front ends for many such languages have been written for GCC.

Writing a compiler as a front end for GCC, rather than compiling directly to assembler or generating C code which is then compiled by GCC, has several advantages:

Because of the advantages of writing a compiler as a GCC front end, GCC front ends have also been created for languages very different from those for which GCC was designed, such as the declarative logic/functional language Mercury. For these reasons, it may also be useful to implement compilers created for specialized purposes (for example, as part of a research project) as GCC front ends.

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